A/N: After watching the final episode / TV movie "Chasing Zoey" I felt happy (Chase & Zoey) and disappointed at the same time. What happened to James? I mean, it wasn't like he was some random fling of Zoey's; they dated longer than she's been with anyone else. And yet the writers did his character no justice in that ep. So this is my little tribute to James, because I'm weird like that.

P.S. Also, I've looked all over and I can't find any certain facts as to what grade Zoey & Co. are in during CZ but I don't think they could be seniors yet and I've never heard of a prom for sophomores, so I'm going to assume it was their junior prom and they were in 11th grade, which makes them seniors in my story. If you have proof (not speculation) that they were in a different grade, please leave me the link, otherwise it's staying this way.

Summary: James Garrett returns for his senior year at PCA following his break-up with Zoey. How will he handle the break-up, senior year, and an awkward friendship with his new roommate, Chase Matthews, all at the same time?

Splinters

Four months. She gave me four months. I suppose I don't really have anything to complain about. I mean, how often does a guy get lucky like I did? I transfer to an amazing new boarding school and by the end of my first week I'm dating the best-looking girl on campus. That sort of thing just doesn't happen every day.

And the fact that she put up with me for four months is a miracle in and of itself. I was sure I wouldn't be able to hold onto her for very long. Yet somehow I managed to make it through the entire semester.

I guess more than anything, I'm angry with myself. I should have seen it coming sooner. I was caught off guard, and it hurt. That necklace I gave her wasn't just for the hell of it, you know. I meant it. And even though it's been four months since we broke up, four glorious months of Zoey-free summer, I still mean it.

Monday. Today is the first day of senior year at PCA, and instead of coming back triumphant, as Zoey's boyfriend, I'm coming back with my tail between my legs, as Zoey's ex. I wonder who my roommates will be. Obviously, the almighty Chase will return to his spot as Logan and Michael's roommate, which puts me out of a bed. I hope they don't stick me back in 3A again. Michael was right; that room is jank.

Well, for now I have to go. We're pulling into the parking lot. Go Stingrays.

Chapter 1: The Art of Reconnecting

I stepped out of my parents' car and into the bright California sunshine. Three months ago I had left this place as quickly and quietly as possible, and I dreaded showing my face again. What would everyone think? How would I explain leaving like I did?



I was pulling my bags out of the trunk when I heard someone calling my name.

"Hey, James!" Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw Michael Barrett heading my way. I sighed. No time like the present, right?

"Hey, Michael," I replied, hoisting my last suitcase out of the car. He held out his hand and I was confused. Looking hurt, he pulled it back.

"What's wrong with you?" He asked. I shook my head.

"Uh, nothing, sorry." Michael shrugged and smiled. He was pretty easy-going most of the time and didn't stay upset for long.

"So, how was your summer?" He asked, helping me gather my suitcases. I responded with a Look and he nodded.

"Right… sorry." Seriously, was I supposed to respond positively? I went from the prospect of spending the entire summer with a beautiful girl – my girlfriend – in Maui to being a dateless loser sitting around at home. I didn't even have my uncle's hardware store to keep my mind off of things.

"It's cool. Well, I guess I'll see you in class and stuff. I should go get my room assignment." He stared at me.

"What are you talking about? Are you not rooming with us this year?" Now it was my turn to stare.

"I, uh – well, I assumed your room would be full this year." Michael suckered punched me in the shoulder and I glared at him. "What was that for?"

"Dude, it's your room, too. Come on, man, just because Chase is back at PCA doesn't mean we're gonna turn you out or something!" He shook his head. "I mean, we are friends, aren't we?" I nodded quickly.

"Of course! I just – I mean you and Chase were friends first, so I understand if-"

"If what? If I can't be friends with both of you? Give me more credit than that! Look, just take your stuff to the dorm, I'll meet you there. And quit being such a girl about this!" He jogged off and I was stunned.

"I'm not a girl!" I hollered after him, causing two ninth grade girls to stare and giggle as they passed. "Well, I'm not!" I barked at them and they hurried away.

"Why are you yelling at strangers?" I turned to see Lola standing next to my pile of bags. Grinning, she gave me a bear hug, but I was too startled to react normally. Was I in some sort of twilight zone? This was Zoey's best girl friend. "What's wrong?" She asked, sensing my hesitation and pulling away.

"I…" I trailed off, unsure of what to say. "I didn't expect such an enthusiastic greeting, I guess." She looked confused.

"Why not? I haven't seen you in forever! Why wouldn't I be enthusiastic?" I shrugged, and understanding dawned on her features. Before I could react, she smacked my sore shoulder.

"Ouch!" I rubbed it. "Why does everyone keep hitting me?" I complained. She glared at me.

"Because you're being stupid and someone has to knock some sense into you!" She shook her head. "Honestly, did you think we were just going to stop talking to you? You and Zoey broke up, cool, whatever. That's between you and her. It doesn't change our friendship." She looked sad. "Does it?" I shook my head frantically.

"No! I mean, not on my part, I was just… worried, I guess." She grinned.

"Well don't be. You're still my buddy." Grinning back, I hugged her so excitedly that I lifted her feet off of the ground.

"Thanks, Lola. You rock. Hey, you want to get some sushi later? I haven't had good sushi all summer!" She nodded.

"Definitely. I'll stop by your dorm before dinner." I picked up my bags.

"Awesome. I'll see you later! And say hi to Vince for me," I added over my shoulder.

The closer I got to my old dorm, the less excited I felt, and the more my stomach churned. When was I going to have to see Zoey? Would she be alone first or would I have to see her and meet this Chase guy at the same time? I didn't think I could handle that.

I reached the door and stared at it. Michael was supposed to be in there, and I hoped he would be. Logan and I got along okay in the end, but he still wasn't my favorite person and I definitely wasn't his. I pushed the door open with my shoulder and backed inside, dragging my things with me. The door shut as soon as I cleared it and I turned to find the room empty of Michael and Logan, but not empty altogether.